To Edinburgh

It was an unplanned trip really.  Me needing to get out of the house with the promise of good weather (well not pouring rain).  My roommate and I caught the first train out Sunday, 8:30, to Edinburgh Waverley.  No matter if you say it correctly you still sound American. Edin-bur-ru.  Still won’t sound the same.  The way to our first change put us at Queen street which took asking for directions to find the platform as we had to go out of the station and around.  Most people here are quite helpful and will give you directions or take you half way.  We got on our train and sat with a nice Canadian lady there on a visit so the time went quickly.  The train ride took us through beautiful country where I got a further appreciation of the farmed land. Land that back home would be wooded, was instead field with sheep dotted throughout.  When we approached Edinburgh Waverley we were greeted by the backside of Edinburgh castle. One day I’ll visit, but today I was saving my 17 pounds and wanted to climb Arthurs seat (one day ill hike mountains on every continent).  The trek up was short but steep.  Not comparable so much to back home but my body was still complaining.  Many people were here making their way up.  We took several stops up and at the top were greeted by many other people who completed the ascent.  I love the atmosphere at the top of a mountain, even one as small as this one.  There’s a common sense of accomplishment.

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Following our hike we went for nachos at a place recommended to me by my big vet.  The Auld House was known for its nachos and their menu suggests two people for their smaller plate.  I suggest 3 or 4.  What arrived was a masterpiece.  My roommate and I worked as hard as we could to make a dent in the massive pile.  We both paused halfway through and she couldn’t eat any more.  I hate wasting food and couldn’t stand to leave half (also the people behind the bar were looking at me with a challenging look) so I persevered.  I proved that you can eat your way out of nausea.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

 

After I rolled myself out of the restaurant (rather some rude tourists who came in in a large group practically picked me up and escorted me from my table) we went to the Royal Mile.  I had eaten myself out of the nausea so I felt quite fine to do a bit of shopping but my roommate gave me a look of “how in the hell did you eat that much and how are you still going”.  I found a few gifts for my family back home and we happened upon a small parade (apparently you can find anything in a city.  There was a marching band and some horse vaulters.  I just then got a call from a friend at the Edinburgh vet school ( I emailed her while eating my sorrows in nachos on the off chance she’d respond) so we met up to wander.  She had been locked up all day studying so was happy to get out.  They wanted to go the the Elephant Cafe, where J.K. Rowling had written many of her books so we went, took some pictures, saw the line and move on (no one wanted coffee that bad).  We went over to Greyfriars Kirkyard which is supposedly a very haunted graveyard and holds the gravestone to Tom Riddle.  As we walked in, we found ourselves looking at some owls and found out they were there to promote birds of prey and for just 4 pounds we could hold one! So we got out our money and took our pick of birds.  I chose Gladstone, a striking barn owl (he looked less likely to bite if I pet him).

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We hope to go back on halloween when they are having a story telling (ghost of course) in the graveyard with the birds to sense the supernatural.

The train home was much slower than the way there, or so it seemed.  There were many stops and I got a lesson in how to pronounce all the Scottish towns.

Until all hallows’ eve, Edinburgh

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Foreigner’s God

Week 2 in Glasgow, Scotland

 

Cheers is still an awkward phrase coming out of my mouth.  American, it screams.  This week has been one that would aggravate the impatient sort.  All week all I could think of was my Aunt’s description of what culture shock is.  “You will become annoyed at the littlest differences.  I wasn’t annoyed as much as almost humored at how this week has gone.  Yesterday’s quote was “I’m hoping I’m just an idiot that left their keys in the flat”.

 

Monday.

 

First day of orientation.  Holy awkward.  Stick 120 students from different countries and age groups in a classroom and see how it goes.  Nothing eventful sticks out.  I honestly don’t remember Monday.  Wait.  Coming back to this.  IT WAS THE FRESHERS FORUM.  Take the same 120 students (well the ones that would show up to a pub for free food and drinking games).  I.e most of the 18 year old UK students.  I went with my big vet and her friend with their dogs.  Drinks were had, kings cup played at some point, some names learned, and some accents worked out, sort of.  Amelia met up with Katie and I and after we went for Reuben cuddles (the Scottish fold).  Afterwards, I got us home via maps, which required some turning about and nearly getting lost in the west end.  Really just temporarily displaced.  It wasn’t raining so I didn’t mind.

 

Tuesday..
Orientation day 2.  Group chat is blowing up.  I question why I’m still on it.  There is confusion at whether class starts at half nine like the previous day or 9 like some random statement in one of the random pages on moodle that I can’t really access because I don’t have wifi yet.  More basic (somewhat boring if you’ve been through college) information in the morning with interspersed frustration because my computer wouldn’t connect to the wifi (really I was being an idiot again and wasn’t entering the right password).

 

Wednesday.
PONY DAY! Weather dependent.  AKA don’t bet on it but there’s always hope

 

It was also health screening so I went up to campus and hooked onto the wifi to work on my moodle skills and take the quiz for navigating the site.  A few hours of hair pulling later I finished the quiz, got my PPE gear and had the 2 minute health screening.  The weather was nice and sunny so I planned to walk over to the post to get a package that Royal Mail tried delivering when we weren’t there.  They won’t leave it, ever.  Welcome to Scotland, if you want something delivered then best take the whole day off because if you count on it being there before noon it won’t and if you count on the later it will be there first thing, 10 minutes after you’ve left. So to Lincoln Ave I went.  Maps said 40 minutes, but I always like a good competition.  A nice 30 minute stroll later I picked up my package (Wellies! Ask me how many the average Scottish vet student has.  You’ll be amazed, there’s never to many!).  On the way back I took off my jacket and another few minutes after that a thought struck me.  I didn’t actually know where my keys were and hoped to hell they didn’t fall out taking off my jacket.  When I got back they were nowhere to be found and I was due to show up to meet for riding in 30 minutes.  A few frantic messages, and an amazing friend with a car later I was walking the sidewalk by where I took my jacket off in search of keys.  “I feel like I would’ve heard them drop” “I hope I’m just an idiot that didn’t have them in the first place since I didn’t lock the door with them”.  We drove back and she let me borrow riding pants and I luckily had hiking boots on and could use a helmet there.  Ask me about how I brought all my riding gear halfway across the globe, I dare you.

My horse was a spritely thoroughbred, with the same name as my car back home, Ruby. I wished I had proper riding boots and half chaps because several times she wanted to go and my legs got badly pinched by the stirrup leathers in the process.  But the ride was amazing! 2 hours, 6 miles through the heart of Scotland.  There were hills, mud, sheep, a loch, a pond with the story that they used to hang witches at it, and last but not least sporadic downpours breaking up the sunshine.

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Of course we came along this visitor center/castle too.  I always love riding by kids pointing excitedly yelling “horse!”

When I got home I found my keys sitting on my bed and resigned to going for a run, getting the various items from the grocery store I had forgotten the day before and watching a movie.

 

Thursday.

 

My Friday.  Thank god.

 

Orientation Class, hanging about for my loan check, coming home to find out my moms package was being held ransom at the post for customs charges.  Trekking to the hardware store for a lock for vet lockers, unsuccessfully getting a key cut, trekking to the bank, finding out it takes 5 days for the check to clear (in the states you have access to 200 before a check clears), taking the 30 minute walk back to the post office (mind you its Royal Mail not the regular post that was right around the block from the bank).  Trekking to the other hardware store to get a spare key to hide and key hooks.  By the time I got home my lunch had worn off and I was hungry again so I ate a second lunch and resigned to the couch.  After a bit I meandered out of the house for a bike ride.  I finally had a helmet thanks to my ransom package so ventured in the direction of Edinburgh on the canal.  I went 4 miles out and turned around when the path got unbearably bumpy because it turned to cobblestones.  I’m glad I had a helmet because its entirely possibly to blow a tire and eat it on the paths around here.

 

Tomorrow I’m hoping for a hike in the highlands and a trip to Edinburgh this weekend with my roomates.

 

 

Lock-ed On Canal

I’m sitting at Lock 27, a pub a two minute walk from my flat right beside the Canal.  I can guarantee ducks, swans, beer, cider, and good food rain or shine to all who visit.

I arrived bringing the lovely Vermont weather, and have been bracing for the change.  We arrived early and did not get much sleep on the flight.  For the first few days we stayed with Amelia, a Scottish born who kindly offered her spare room until I could move into my flat.   With that also came Reuben, the cutest Scottish Fold there was.  Always up for cuddles and has a purr that can be heard the next room over. After a short nap, we were treated to a traditional Scottish breakfast including bread pudding and haggis as well as a few other norms.  I wouldn’t say the haggis was that bad but definitely an acquired taste.  Afterward we headed over to Kalvingrove museum and explored a bit of the West End.  Kalvingrove is quite large and features the commonly photographed head display over part of the large castle.

A few things I’ve noticed over here…
The Scottish must be allergic to most things because every bar has some if not a large selection of ciders, not usual to US bars.  Looks like I won’t be missing out on many of the pub events all over
With that there is gluten free everywhere, they hardly ever charge extra, sometimes theres even an entire menu, and they don’t give you a strange look when you ask for it
Say cheers.  No matter how much habit forces you to say thank you.  They pick you out as American either way but at least they’ll give you a better look
While you drive on the left side of the road, people park where they please.  On the sidewalk with four ways, in a lane, really anywhere that it says you can’t outside of the city centre
Back roads are 60 mph and one lane with minimal visibility.  Pee prior to leaving and be prepared to get passed.
People walk everywhere on the sidewalks.  Definitely no texting and walking

On our second day we headed over to Amelia’s mom, Laura’s house.  The house was beautiful and large, but I expect with frequent bad weather that they spend much time inside so a large house is not abnormal.  The family was very lovely and dinner was anything but quiet.

The animals.  There are many.  First theres the hairless cat, the ferret the five dogs, one a Serbian rescue.  There are also two bengals that were mother and son, a siamese, another DSH and an outdoor black cat that was also a Serbian rescue.  Down below theres a separate bird room, with a parrot of sorts, a pair of budgies one of which was found flying loose, and another pair of small birds.  There was also a guinea pig, rabbit, and chinchilla.  Breathe. Now outside.  Five goats, on of which named Max who LOVED being scratched, a pair of large hogs, some small chickens, some ducks, and sheep about on pasture.  There was also the Stallion, two riding mares, and miniature horse.  Get this, I was invited back anytime, and invited to ride several times. The daughter, sister to Amy was also interested in picking my mind on endurance riding.

The following day we meandered up to Loch Lomond.  We weren’t entirely sure the best “hillwalking” spot so we found a pull off with a promising sign saying the landowner allowed people to walk the land.  So we hopped the sheep fence and began the steep incline through the forest.  We reached another fence line and hopped that and started walking through a very wet field.  You could hear the water running down the hill, and the land was punctured with animal prints so the trail became much more difficult.  This was the point I felt much like James Herriot, making way up to where the sheep or cattle were, internally wondering what they got themselves into.  I was not impressed to say the least, as I was hoping for a nice “easy” hillwalking up a semi-steep mountain.  However when I turned around, teetering on the hillside, I saw an impressive view of the Loch.  There were boats scattered as well as light clouds in a blue sky.  And sun, there was sun.  I will remember this in a few days when all there is is wind, rain, and clouds.

Friday I moved in and Amelia was kind enough to come help and offered to show us how to get to city centre and show us around all the shops.

Buchanan Street is like a massive church street.  Many sights and sounds flood the senses.  A one man band with a guitar and foot drum kit sang a familiar song I couldn’t quite place, but it sounded like a proper recording.  In the middle of one of the street a crowd gathered around a chess match with radio music playing.  It wasn’t until the way back that we realized he was trying to raise money for his sick dad using the talent he had to make some extra money.

Argos, the instant online shopping experience.  Here you are greeted with an empty floor with a catalog and computer.  Here you find what you want, see if its in stock and then right down the number.  When you’re finished you go pay for it and then sit at a counter where someone collects your items and then gives them to you.  Seems great right? Well apparently cafe mocha, which looks dark brown in a catalog comes out in a tan shade.  I went up and asked about it to the person there and the girl who checked me out gave me and here a rude response of “well I asked if that’s what she wanted”.  They looked up the image to see what I saw which was a dark brown color labeled “cafe mocha”. I was given the answer that things look different in print sometimes.  Ah, online shopping.  After I got most of the accessories I needed, on of which being a cow lamp thanks to TK- Maxx, we headed back for the train.

One of my favorite things about Glasgow is how dog friendly the place is.  Dogs tied and placed in a down stay, dogs outside of restaurants, dog in restaurants, dog on trains, dogs just about everywhere.  I hope in time I could find a good dog as it would be very easy to go anywhere with one.

Today I woke up and went for a run along the Canal on paths that were once for horses pulling barges.  I took three strides from my flat before hitting the path and immediately stopped.  Two swans were in the grass along the path grooming.  I snapped a picture in case they fled but after I started off again they just stayed right there, four inches from the pavement.  When I came back they were in the water, and I went onto the dock to stretch and they slowly swam off.  I think I’ve found a perfect running and biking trail, rain or shine.

Today I also picked up myself a nice bike.  It should be in from the warehouse and to my flat in 3-5 days.  To say I’m excited is an understatement.  After using the same bike since middle school it will be nice to have a proper bike.  I don’t mind walking and don’t really need a car but it would be nice to have a faster free way to get to and from and just plain explore.

Tomorrow it’s due to rain.  Sometime here I’ll have to pick myself up some proper wellies and I’ll be set to properly experience Scotland.

More to come.

Cheers

 

Name: Merida Mission: To Take on Scotland… and Vet School

I’ve always bit off more than the average could chew.  Heck, I’ll down a hot cup of coffee that would make most peasants whimper in pain and live with the peeling blisters the next few days.  So naturally when taking on the load of Vet School, a foreign country came into the picture.  It was never intended, but others had made me question myself and I ended up applying abroad and not the states for my first application cycle.  The Royal Veterinary School in London and the University of Glasgow, Scotland.

“Scotland, wow.  How long? A semester?” several wide eyes stared back at me as I respond “Five years.”  I try my best to portray absolute confidence at my next move.  I was standing on a forty foot ledge over a big pool of water, terrified of heights.  I knew I could do it, I knew how many hundreds of others also did it, but holy shit was it scary.  I knew I had to go to this school, I know how hard it will be to leave, but I also know how amazing an experience it will be.  The hard times in undergrad had brought me here, because nothing else would have.  Being a true Vermonter, I had never lived over twenty miles from my birth place.  Had I gotten amazing grades and flown through college with ease, I would’ve probably had a choice of a closer school, one in the states even.  If I hadn’t sat in the admissions office at the University of Missouri with a staff member basically telling me my out of state application was doomed for the bottom of the pile and I might consider improving it before I bothered to spend my money on an application I wouldn’t have felt the utter discouragement at that point in my life.  Had I not been told on a regular basis by several professors that if I didn’t get a 3.8 GPA then I had no business pursuing the Veterinary Profession.  When I applied to both school I truly didn’t think I’d get in.

Dear Merida,

We would like to invite you to attend an interview in the USA …. the email read.

I remember being at work and internally jumping up and down.  I was probably working with the cows or my boss which is the only reason I didn’t.

I ended up with an interview at both schools in New York City.  I am so grateful for those experiences in themselves and wouldn’t have been that disappointed had I not gotten in. I learned how to a subway much better as well as navigate a big city.  The first time I went with my mother for RVC.  The interview was very interactive and it was the first vet school I was thoroughly intrigued by with the way they conducted their reasoning test.  They made me think in the sort of way I am good at and I like to do.  This interview gave me a renewed hope in my beaten dream.

My second interview was scheduled for a few months later.  Amidst finalizing plans to travel to it, I received an email.  This on I remember it was a lovely warm winter day, I was in my UVM sweatshirt walking through the feed alley of the barn with sunlight shining through.  I was alone doing my chores and this time I stopped dead and read on.

Dear Merida,

Congratulations! We are delighted to be able to make you a conditional offer of place                   to study…

 

As a direct interpretation of what was going through my head as I read,

I WAS IN. HOLY SHIT MY NAME AND VET SCHOOL WERE JUST USED COINCIDING.  I CAN BECOME A VET. I CAN BE AS GOOD AS ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE I’VE SEEN ALONGSIDE ME IN SCHOOL AND HEAD OFF TO A DREAM SCHOOL.

 

The next hard life choice came 20 minutes later as I was on the phone with my mom telling her the news.  One of her first responses was “So, do you still want to go to the Glasgow interview?”  Proper timing has never run in our family.  She was stressed about making plans and it was a legitimate question but my excitement turned into a stressed dread.  I couldn’t make that decision.  I thought I wanted to go to RVC more but I didn’t know.  After much thought I ended up going to the other interview and I’m sure glad I did.  I enjoyed that interview and ended up liking the vibes of the staff and structure much more.  When I was accepted I knew that was the school I like better for many reasons.

Pros: I knew people at the school, It had a good program, there was lots of hands on experience, there was much more nature nearby as well as hiking

Cons: one more year,

 

That was about all I could come up with for a con.  I knew I would be happier than in a big city of London for two years and the only thing I didn’t like about the program was that pesky year, but it wouldn’t cost me any more overall because London was such an expensive place to live.

Two months I agonized.  Finally two days before the deadline I notified schools, I would be attending the University of Glasgow.

Step One: accept school

Step Two: Fill out forms, making sure to write DD/MM/YY.  Fuck.  Do you think they’ll care if I just write under it.  Surname.  Given name.  Fuck what’s my name even.  Okay I don’t even know what that is asking.

Step Three: Pay deposit.  Ha. Ha. Ha.  Remember to pay in pounds, and use student number.

The process to wire money internationally: $30

*sit in bank 20 minutes after they take your paperwork to have them come back and tell them that while the market is technically open its slow in the morning and not everyones always around and that it may be a little while.  It’s 10:30 in the morning, but hey 6:30, 10:30 same thing*(

The hair pulling frustration?: priceless (unless your considering the years it took off   my life)

Fuck. Fuck.  Fuck it all.  Maybe we aren’t going to vet school. “Do you think they figure it out if I forgot my student ID number on the wire” I ask my mother.  I send a copy of the form informing the school I sent the deposit, also that I was a peasant and forgot the bloody student ID number

Step Four: Figure out housing.  This one went okay.  3000 miles away, easy right? Oh, we let flats. Figure it out, this peasant did.

Step Five: *Making random lists of things I need to get done, while working 50 hours of farm work, riding my horse, hiking my dog, trying to be a decent friend, and also sleep a reasonable amount.  Person “Can you housesit?” Me: “Sure” * – The moment when one realizes you might quite possibly have “free time” in vet school. Ha. Ha.

Step Six: Forgot which step you are on while knowing there is a distinct form you need to do but don’t know where it was or how to find it and you have a week prior to flying out.

Step Seven: Buy a multipack of underwear while trying to prepare for the trip only to buy 4 sizes to large because your brain somehow forgot that you need to get actual sizes.

Step Eight: Look at the two large suitcases realizing you are going to be bringing too much stuff but also not bringing enough *Can’t I just bring all of it*

 

*Spend the remainder of the last night running around thinking surely you’ve forgotten something*
Tomorrow I’ll visit my pony for the last time for a while and say goodbye to home.  In 36 hours I will find myself on Scottish Land. I’ve got everything I need (and maybe more but I’ve reached the point where I don’t know if what I’m bringing will actually provide useful so I’ve accepted what I have and am going to continue my game of thrones binge.  Here’s to Scotland…

Cheers

 

P.S. See Brave for Scottish name reference

 

Quick Cow Update

Not too much exciting happened for this week… A few calves were born and there were bull calf-heifer calf twins born but both would have to be sent to meat (the testosterone from the bull calf over powers the heifer and they are born sterile without reproductive organs-not conducive to milk production).  This week was a week of brat cows…. I learned a bit more about the Bush’s.  Laura Bush has been moody this week and giving everyone attitude.  The other day we bedded her group and I pushed her to the end with the robot.  Upon seeing that the cow in it was done she shoved through everyone right on into the machine. Now the machines read the tags and can pull up all their information.  If not enough time has passed between milkings it will kick them out.  This is called a refusal.  Barbara and Laura Bush are what we call repeat offenders.  Laura was kicked out but proceeded to push back and try to go in.  She must have done this three times in a minute and then a few more times over a longer period of times.  Her twin sister, Barbara does the same.  Looking at her milking information on the computer showed she went through almost 20 times a day.  Some cows only go twice, many three times.  Only the Bush’s could manage to go through 20 times… Today her and one or two other cows were just cycling through the machine over and over again.  It was like musical refusals.  Monday I will have to look at how many times she actually does go through… I have a feeling I don’t want to know…

My other favorite cow, Avia has been getting spoiled all week.  Her tail is not docked and every time she lies it lies in the manure and then she flicks it up on her back.  Well every time I rake stalls and walk by her I scratch her back with the rake.  She loves it.  I also pick it off any other time I’m walking through the group.  Today I pet her by the water tub but didn’t scratch her butt and walked to go rake the stalls and she followed me a bit and just looked at me.  I swear that face is getting to me.  If I had land I might just buy her… I know her and Loki would get along…Image

This was after I passed her without scratching her butt.  I’m in trouble with her….

 

It was also the week of cows sitting/ laying in strange positions….

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Yes, cows sitImage

 

What I call, “a bad day”

There were several others laying weird and I had to check to make sure they were breathing…

From Little Gold to Loki and Everything Between

I always knew Loki was something special.  I have thought about how her life may have been many times, but even I couldn’t imagine the truth.  The history that shaped her.

A post before this details how I went about finding information.  In this I will instead tell her history from the beginning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 16th, 1992

This is Loki’s official birthday.  I should say Little Gold though, since this is her birth name.  Maggie was the one to change Loki’s name when she was 17.  A man named Ray Miller first owned her and was the one to register her.  He owns Mini Mountain Haflingers in Dudlee, Ohio (this is where the MMH comes from on the pedigree).  He sold her as a weanling to Lori and Leroy Mast in Applecreek, Ohio.

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Luna and Loki’s Family Tree

Loki was born of Alpen Konig, one of the most influential stallions in the US, and La Gold, a foundation broodmare.

Alpenkonig

Alpen Konig “King of the Alps” (born 1968)

He has bred many horses, including a Luna Gold, Loki’s full sister who was born in 1989 and produced several foals for him, and was sold and had more offspring, 12 in total.

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Luna Gold

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One of Luna’s foals.

Aladdin

Aladdin’s Andy, another foal of Luna Gold.

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Luna’s family tree with offspring

~~~~~

Life as a broodmare and riding pony…

Starting in 1997 to 2005 she had a foal, with the exception of 2002. 8 foals in total.

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Loki, Little Rain, Little Lady

This is the information I got from the daughter, Julia, who emailed me after I sent the letter:

“She was my first horse and I rode her from when I was 9 years old till a few years before we sold her to Theo Hug in 2009”

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Loki… I have several mirroring pictures.

“She was my riding horse for about 10 years… I learned to ride on her.  We started out in a small pasture with a halter and 2 ropes for reins…. I would often just ride and lead or brush her around the barn and paddock… often on roads to a friends house.  We took many pleasure rides with my friends and their horses… I rode her on many trail rides with 100+ other horses, some times on a 3 day campout at Salt Fork State park here in Ohio…. I remember driving her maybe once or twice but I mostly rode her… she was used as a broodmare and has had numerous foals….We have kept 1 foal of hers, a 10 yr old mare named “Little Rain” that is trained to ride and drive….”

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Julia going for a ride with her friends.  Loki was 11.

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A cousin borrowing Loki for a ride. Enjoying the beautiful country. Loki was 3.

“I have always just called her Little Gold.. No nickname.  The reason for selling her was simply because we didn’t use her as much.  I had developed more of an interest in starting young horses and was using her foal, Little Rain, as my riding horse.  I will look up some photos I have an make a few copies and mail them to you with in the next few weeks. My younger sisters requested a photo of her as well:)…I’m am glad to hear she is doing well for you!”

She told me jumping was one of her favorite things to do with Loki, and Loki enjoyed it.  I then told her she also loves to run, and prance around at shows.

She replied…

“And I can see her doing just that!… she had her signature “tail swish” with her jog and trot… I’m glad she still does some jumping an still loves to run! I know with their age we have to take some caution but I like to think sometimes that’s what keeps them still have their spirit…”

I had almost forgotten about her tail swish, the one that seemed so normal by now.  It was like she is wagging her tail when she trots.

I then asked if she had ever taken her swimming…

“Oh I never took her swimming…she was often in creeks and I sometimes took her to the edge of a lake while trail riding but I don’t think we have ever gone in far enough that she had to swim! Yes she had plenty of presence! (In response to me telling her about Loki prancing around at shows) …she was a lot lighter and her head was more refined in her younger years before her age set in…but I think she’s looking even better now then she did when we sold her.  In the last year that we had her she wasn’t used as much and had gotten heavier… do you ever notice her throw her head if you hold the reins too tightly on her?”

You know when you see people on communicator shows and the communicator tells you something about a loved one that no one else knew? This is how these emails were starting to get.  I had always though that Loki was just barn sour with age or had a problem with her teeth (but she has them done every year) or some other reason she wasn’t happy and would throw her head.  Not always, and usually only on the way home.  I did notice if I gave her the reins that she would do it less, but I never really thought of it that way.

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Recently when she sent me some of the pictures above I sent this picture of Loki decked out in pink and she said she looked great.  I told her her color is really purple, but she looks good in any color.  She said she had a purple lead and halter for Loki…. Loki has a purple lead and halter now.

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She then went to Theo Hug in Racine, Quebec in May of 2009.

She spent the least time here, just the summer.

She was there for the summer camp as a riding horse.  According to him, she did a few competitions with a beginner rider, and did very well.  After that summer, he sold her to the last owner before me, Maggie in September.

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Maggie is a very busy woman.  She owns a summer home in Burlington, but lives in Canada most of the year.  Why she didn’t keep Loki with them year round, I will never know.  She boarded her at Trails End where I first met her.  Maggie basically let anyone ride her, and didn’t care too much who it was.  Loki become a key horse in the therapeutic riding program.  When I asked Jacie if I could ride some of the horses, I started on Scout.  I would occasionally get on Loki, but Scout was the main horse I rode that summer and even showed once.

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One of the first pictures of me riding Loki… We hadn’t become very close yet

That summer, Maggie took Loki to Starr Farm in Burlington, and I stayed with Scout and the program.  The next winter Loki came back.  I can’t tell you how excited I was that she was back.  I ran to her stall next to Beyla.  I think the way she looked bothers me more now than it did then, but she looked horrible.  Like a completely different horse.  She was underweight, her mane was shaggy, different lengths and dirty, and her coat was dull and dry.  I try to give Maggie the benefit of the doubt, since she really did not seem to know much about horses (she told people that horses get all the nutrients they need from the grass and really believed it.  That summer she and Beyla were left outside 24/7 with only the shelter of trees and no grain or hay.)  The image of seeing her after that summer apart is part of what drives me to spoil her so much.

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First pictures back at Trails End.

That winter was the winter Jacie decided to downsize the program, and with that sold several of her horses, and Scout went back to his owner (he was a lease).  I was devastated to see him leave, but I did still have Loki left to ride.  I started to ride her once or twice a week taking her on trail rides with Mary Beth.  That summer I wanted to do a few shows with her, and had planned on going to one, only to find out Loki was being moved back to Starr Farm.  I asked her owner if I could continue riding her over there since I did not have any other horse to ride.  She agreed and I followed Loki. At this point she had sold the other mare, Beyla and Loki was left alone in the field.  Thankfully, Maggie fed her this summer.  This was the summer that makes me grateful every single day that I own Loki, and do not have to answer to anyone else for her.  Between the constant moving from there to Trails End for camps at Enniskerry on a moments notice and showing up at one barn to find she was at another, to being yelled at for putting Loki in a stall when it was pouring cold rain outside.  That summer was the summer Nina, Maggie’s daughter, fell off in a field and broke her collarbone.  Loki was blamed for that one by Maggie, but it was in a buggy field and Nina was off line and Loki took of to stop the flies from biting her. I know this because I few days later I went out there and we were being eaten alive.  The flies were biting me and within two minutes I had maybe 20 fly bites.  I could feel that she wanted to get the hell out of there and so did I. I let her run home, nearly being taken out by a tree in the process (it was a field with mowed “paths”).

At the end of the summer, she moved to Enniskerry for the winter season.  At this point, Nina was petrified, Maggie was frustrated and I was worried.   Maggie was looking to sell Loki.  Lucky for me, she was looking for more than double of what Loki was worth, and would get (especially in Vermont).  At this point I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford her, but it was still on my mind.  I told Maggie I would take lessons to help “train” Loki and work the bad habits out of her (they weren’t really bad, but I mean I couldn’t tell her that the horse didn’t listen to her because she never worked with her).  I was desperate to keep her close.  Ever since I started riding her I knew she would make the perfect horse for me…. in 10 years.  I was so close to being able to have her, yet so far away.

That winter we were working as a team.  She started feeling more and more like my horse.  Her biting habits were nearly gone, and she was finally in shape and nearly a healthy weight!  There was a slight hiccup when Loki became upset and starting kicking out if you touched her belly.  The thoughts were from Lyme Disease because it switched areas, to joint problems, to unsure.  We settled on joint at that point and starting working and seemed better but not like before.  I think it’s the ulcer problem I am dealing with today (suspected ulcers).  January Maggie offered to give her to me…. Free.

I begged my parents, I talked to the barn owner, I looked for a lease… I worked my ass off and saved as much money as I could.

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February 26, 2012

This is the best day of my life.  To this day, every time the 26th roles around, I think of Loki and know the exact number of months since then.  So far, it’s 16 months.

This day meant many things.

It was the day I owned my first horse. My first thing done as a legal adult.  Some people buy a loto ticket, or cigarettes.  Me? I bought a horse….  8 years before I ever thought I would.  Without the help of my parents.  If Loki needed anything, I would pay for it. I would have to find a way to work it out.  It was better that way because of the next reason.

The day I would not have to answer to ANYONE about this horse.  I could ride her whenever, or at least have control over the riding schedule.  I could decide what she would be fed. I would decide everything and anything.

I could spoil the hell out of this horse. After Maggie, she had some attachment issues. Some she still deals with today (she gets very angry when I skip more than one or two days).

I wouldn’t have to worry if she would be moved, or better yet sold without my knowledge, and I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye.

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Present Day…

You couldn’t find a more spoiled pony… I bring her fruit daily, we go on long trail rides, we go to the ice cream stand and I’ll buy her a smoothie….

There literally isn’t anything I would do for her.

Some of her favorite foods include:

Oranges

Grapefruit

Pear

Bananas

Apples

Carrots

Mango Smoothies

Twizzlers

And most anything else.

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Loki eating her birthday smoothie.  Mango Maui- a favorite

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Unfortunately for all my facebook friends, they get daily photos like this one.  I mean, who couldn’t love that face?

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Trust. 

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I love going on bareback rides with her.  There is nothing more freeing than galloping bareback.  Not many people have a trust like that.  A trust of your life, even if it wasn’t asked.  I trust her, and she trusts me to keep her safe.  Just the other day she let me ride her up to a fire and didn’t blink.  Most horses run at the sight of fire, and rightfully so.

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That beautiful mane ❤

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I now understand a lot more about Loki… Knowing the past without knowing Loki you would think she would be a perfect horse for Maggie (who had her before me), but Maggie always had trouble with Loki misbehaving.  But if you take in to account Loki’s personality and really consider her past, she is a one person horse.  Specifically, Julia’s horse.  While other people borrowed Loki, Julia was the main person in her life.  I feel as though I have taken over that role and while I’m not her first owner, I enjoy doing the things with her that she and Julie did.  Maggie wanted a perfect horse but didn’t have the time.  That’s all Loki needs.  She has always had a deep bond with her owner, and was always ridden by those with a pure heart, a pure passion.

She has this glimmer in her eye.  It’s the trouble maker that likes to sneak out of her stall and find hay when hers ran out.  The look when I call her name for escaping.  The face I was able to trick with a hand warmer wrapper to catch her.  The look she and I both have as we gallop hills, me laughing, her increasing in speed when she hears the hoof beats behind her get louder.  The look when she thinks I brought her food, searching my hands, nibbling my phone to see if it’s food.  It’s the face that makes you laugh when all you want to do is yell at her for biting you.  Most importantly, it’s the look that will capture your heart <3.

AllYouNeedIsALittleGold<3

Highlights of Working on a Dairy Farm

Working at North Williston Cattle Company.

First I will warn there will be some moderately graphics pictures….

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The People:

First there is Onan.  Him and his brother Lorenzo own/ run the farm.  I spend most of the time working with Onan.  He is in his 50s.  His wife, Mary, is the only other woman who works “on the farm”.  She does mostly calf care, feeding them, dehorning, docking tails etc.  I will mention docking tails here… Many people are against it, but I will tell you, the calves aren’t in pain and it really does make for a happier, healthier cow later on as I will explain (basically when they have a tail it gets in the manure when they lay and when they swish their tail they fling poop on their backs and occasionally get bystanders (me)).  Next there is Ben, Onan and Mary’s son.  He does pretty much anything and everything.  Becky is their daughter.  She is the vet.  They have another daughter, but she doesn’t work on the farm… Then there is Steve.  He does mainly mornings and weekends but I do see/ work with him sometimes.  He used to be the herd manager at UVM when the had all the cows, not just cream.  There is another guy named Larry but I’ve yet to run into him.

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My first there was as interesting as any.  At the beginning of any day I do certain chores.  This includes scraping manure on the ends where the alley scraper doesn’t get, scraping manure off the platforms, then raking the stalls (pushing sand to the back, scraping out manure).  As you will learn, my day revolves around manure.  Also at some point I will push up feed with a skid steer with a plow.  Also when I first get in I go into the milk tank room to take the cleaning hose off the milk tank, put a screen on it to keep bugs out and unhook a hose…. This is done after the tank cleans.

After that, Onan came over from the Essex farm and we drove over there.  This farm is for dry cows and growing baby cows (after 4 months).  They were doing vaccinations and worming.  Steve and Ben were also over here.  It was decided that Ben would worm, Onan would vaccinate, and Steve and I would push cows into the chute.  Before we went in, Ben turned to me and said “you’re probably gonna get covered in shit”.  At this point they hadn’t entirely decided whether or not I was some squeamish girl from UVM.  Little did they know then that I have two older brothers and grew up playing in mud, and have a horse so I’m used to my life revolving around shit.  I just looked into the manure filled barn cellar floors and laughed and said “I know”.  Steve and I had a system going where I would go to the back of the pen and push 3 at a time forward and he would keep them going.  These cows were some of the younger ones so they were a bit more jumpy and at one point one ran past me in the process flinging shit up in my face.  As my family commented later, it brings a whole new meaning to being “shitfaced” (sorry about any language).  We would get a group done and bring in more.  We probably vaccinated maybe 100 cows.  At one point one decided it was having nothing to do with it and jumped the divider (it was probably the height of a cow).  The cows have surprised me with their speed and agility.  I have always viewed them as calm slow moving animals.  This was proven wrong time and time again.

This particular day we also moved cows out onto pasture in a trailer.  We loaded maybe 10 or so onto a trailer and drove down the road to “8 acre lot”.  Here we opened the gate and let them in.  The cows went running, bucking, and frantically grabbing at the green grass.  It brought a whole new meaning to happy cows. I think they were more excited than most horses.  Onan mentioned that California had nothing on Vermont cows.  Over future conversations I learned that most California cows are on dry pasture because all the grass has been eaten and stomped down (similar to dirt horse paddocks) and the only place there was cement was where silage was put and when it rained the pasture would get very muddy and some slip and can die.  So no, California cows aren’t so happy like in the staged commercials.

At the end of every day starting around 3 we “fetch cows”.  We make list for each of the four groups of cows that either are late to milk or failed.  These are the cows that have gone more than 9 or 10 hours between milkings.  The computer in the office for the robots tell this and pretty much anything else you want to know.  A cow can fail for a number of reasons.  The biggest is it times out because it cannot attach either because the cow kicks it off, or something like 9002 who has rear teats that touch and the robot can’t attach unless you hold them apart.  Also if the robot does not get flow it can fail.  It can also fail if something is mechanically wrong with the machine.  To fetch cows, someone goes looking for the cows in the group, and the other person stands by the water tub past the robot.  That person prevents the cows from going around the corner, and pushes them into the catch pen when the “fetching” person opens the catch pen gate  You then close it and tie it so that only cows inside can go in the robot.  Usually this takes 2 hours since each milking takes a bit (the average milk production is 90 pounds or 30-40 pounds per milking and some as much as 110 pounds a day.  They milk from 2 to 3 times a day).  Now the fetch cows are the ones that either fail, are a bit lame so don’t go to get milked on their own, or are as I term, crazy.  These are the fresh heifers who are first time milkers (heifer is a cow that hasn’t had a calf, cow has had a calf).  They aren’t used to the process so tend to take much more time, patience, and sometimes need the no kick bar (it puts pressure points so they “can’t” kick).  The worst cow took an hour, and three times failed and re-caught and finally brought out to be milked by “hand” (using a smaller non-lasered machine).  She was completely fine with that and walked onto the beef truck the next day.  I’m not sure why she was so bad because the day before she went in with minimal effort.  Some cows try to get out and step in the grain tub, some will back up, some step and kick the machine.  If you can think of it, it happens.

After all the caught cows have gone through we service the robots. This consists of pausing the machine and waiting for the milking cow to finish, hosing down the machine and right outside the machine, checking the grain bin to make sure a cow hasn’t pooped in it (which happens a lot suprisingly even with a shield)Image

This is a cow standing in front of the robot.  You can see the plastic “shield”.

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This is inside the robot room.  You can see the teat cups attached to the udder.  You can also see the red laser that positions the machine and helps attach the teat cups.

Once you hose down everything, you move the machine using the (very bad) touch screen on the machine and “loosen” the teat cups.  You then check the rope to make sure it isn’t frayed, if it is you loosen the screws and take of the bottom of the teat cup and re tie a knot past the frayed part and put it back together.  You then go to the other side of the arm and open a compartment and take out the extra rope and re tie a knot so that the teat cup is to the right length.  The next thing to check is the rubber hoses.  They can get holes and if they do you take off the clamp, cut the hose past the hole, put the hose back on and re-clamp.  Now that doesn’t sound bad, except the rope knots get stuck and you literally have to pull with all your strength to get it off, and the hose is just a bit small so that it fits tight so that takes a lot of effort as well.  It is one of those things that looks easier than it is.  Once the machine is “good” you “fix” the teat cups, move the arm back to the home position, press play and wait for the cow to come in.  This also should be done in a timely fashion as it can’t milk when you are working on it and it wastes milking time.  All throughout the day feed should also be pushed up.

We also just bedded today.  This involved pushing all cows to one end away from the stalls and bedding with sand…

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Also when pushing up feed in the dry cow barn (or pregnant cow barn) you check for cows birthing.  Sometimes they already have.  If there are just legs sticking out you move the cow to the sand area so they give birth there.  If they already have, you drag the calf to the same area (they are too heavy and dirty to pick up) and the mom follows.  When a calf is born there are a few things to do.  One is pour iodine on their belly buttons.  Then go back to the office and get a bag of colostrum from the fridge and warm it in water.  Also, tags are made, but Mary usually does this.  Mary also often feeds the calves, but I have several times.  You pour the milk into the bottle.  The bottle has a metal “tube” that will feed into the calf stomach.  If you dip in milk it makes it go down much easier.  When feeding them, you want to tube to go down the left side to the stomach.  If you go to the lungs, well is drowns the calf, not good.  Once you are in the stomach you tip the bottle up and milk goes into calf stomach.  If they bleat, that is good.  You do this twice for the entire bag of milk.  Now this is relatively easy except at the same time you are watching the hormonal and potentially deadly mother cow in the same pen, and sometimes the calves fight and will kick and try to wriggle away.  Let me tell you, newborn calves and feisty little buggers.  One knocked me on my butt once. One fought me the entire way to the calf cart.  Image

This is her, feet firmly planted.  Took me 5 minutes to move her like 10 feet.

Some observations I have about calves:

-They are very curious of people when they are young.  As they get older they get much more flighty.

-They are born with teeth!  They have lower teeth and a tough upper pad, but I never knew they had teeth when they were born.

-They make an adorable bleating noise….

-They are quite large.  Maybe 50 or 60 pounds (heavier than Hannah).

Recently we’ve had some interesting births.  Maybe two weeks ago, Onan and I pulled one with chains and she came out fairly easy.  Because she was small he checked for a twin and then let me.  A cow uterus is large.  My arm didn’t fit to the bottom.  This past Monday there was one that needed the calf puller (google comes up with some close images to what we have).  This calf was upside down and then was right side up, but still would not come out.  We attached chains to the legs, and then the chains to the calf puller.  It is a rod that has a U shape that goes on the cows back legs.  The rod that attaches to it provides leverages and reel in to pull the calf out.  I ran the puller and as they put it,  fished for the calf.  He came out in about 5 minutes with much pulling, and a bit of blood.  She also fell down and got an IV with calcium to treat for milk fever.  She got up much easier after. Needless to say that cow was going to be sore for a while.  Two days later there was another calf that needed to be pulled.  He let me feel the calf in their and I could feel the legs and “his” head.  As he came out I thought he may be dead only because his tongue was sticking out and he wasn’t moving but as I was “fishing” for him he started moving a bit.  He came out a little easier than the other.

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The second calf we pulled.  I also fed him.

Just today there was another problem calving.  This cow had been leaking milk for the past week and they got 80 pounds out of her yesterday (which isn’t entirely normal).Early this morning she had a prolapse uterus and the vet came, put it back in and sew up her uterus.  Shortly after she ended up ripping the stitches out and prolapsed again.  They cleaned it as much as they could considering she had been laying in the sand.  Then for about 10 minutes they pushed it in.  Once it was back in Becky sewed the ripped area where stitches had been and then used a much larger needle (like 8 inches long) and then closed her uterus like a bag (it tied at the bottom and can open to put in medication or breed).  I then gave her a shot of antibiotic in the leg.  The smell also was something I don’t care to smell for a while.  I have a tough stomach, but it was making me gag a bit.

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Sorry if this is too much, but here you can see her uterus…. Don’t think it needs much explaining.

Some medical cases….

Some common things that are treated for are…

Mastitis. A bacteria that feeds on milk that can give the cow a fever, discomfort, and is relatively easy to treat.

Pneumonia.  Causes a “cough”, fever, etc same as human.

Now this mixed with mastitis makes for a very unhappy cow…

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This cow looked like a dog that was scolded and was kicked out into the cold rain.  After treating, she is feeling a bit better.

Milk fever.  A deficiency in calcium.  This can cause a cow to fall down and become unable to get up.  Also causes fever.  Treated with an IV of calcium.

Ketosis.  Similar-ish to milk fever.  Occurs just after calving usually as with milk fever.  This is from a drop in glucose levels and can cause more nervous problems such as temporary blindness.

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This was my second IV.Image

Third IV.

I’m not entirely sure anymore the circumstances of each but they were milk fever/ketosis related.  One I caught when we were catching cows.  There was a cow that was stumbling around and running into things and “blind”.  We moved her to the box stall and in the process she knocked nearly everything she could over.  Another had a high temperature.  Giving and IV is very different than what I’ve seen in people or even dogs.  Cows have very thick skin as we know from many strong leather goods.  Giving and IV, you use a rope halter and tie their head to the side, either when they are in the head lock of to their leg if they are on the ground (each is shown in the pictures).  If you put your finger right in the groove, it will make their vein stick out a bit.  Their veins are about the size of a small garden hose.  Before you do it, you rub the area with iodine/ soapy water and then do this. Now to get through the skin takes a bit of force.  Onan told me before, “Get mad at the cow.  Pretend it just stepped on your phone”.  He told me to find the vein and then stick the needle in a hard as you can.  The first time I was too high, second too low.  Third was right on and I knew from the blood.  Then you pull it out a bit and turn it in while twisting it.  You then run the solution until it is coming out the line and put it in the needle (air is bad in blood, as anyone should know).  The second IV I got on my second time.  My third was also second time, but the first time I was a bit hesitant and didn’t do it hard enough and the needle hardly went in.

I also got to see a DA surgery (displaced abomasum).  This is when their stomach fills with gas and gets displaced to the other side of the abdominal cavity.  The way Becky did it was cut open the left side of the cow (maybe a foot long incision) and let the gas out, stitched the stomach to the right side, then stitched up the side of the cow.  That was the very brief version of it.  A few things I’ve learned is that cows are not very prone to infection (this was done in the stalls right in the barn, no real sterilization done.  If the same was done with a horse it would be either dead from the stress or infection.)  They also takes much much less anesthesia.  The comparison Becky said was it took less than it would for a chihuahua.

Another interesting thing I got to do a few weeks back was trim a hoof!

I will first detail all the interesting foot experiences….  The first was treating interdigital dermatitis or “hairy wart”.  It is a type of virus.  It is not entirely understood, but it can be passed from cow to cow, and it seems similar a bit to thrush in horses.  How it is treated if putting a cow in a stall in a headlock and tying the leg up.  You then trim the hoof and clean around the “wart” (which is painful and can be bloody).  They are in the back usually but can be in the front in the middle of the cloven hooves and make the hair kind of stick out hence the name.  One the hoof is properly trimmed, you put on an antibiotic and then wrap the foot with vetwrap.  We did this to several cows over in Essex and then a week or so after did a few in the dry cow barn.  The second one he did he let me try my hand at trimming.  It was again, a lot harder than it looked.  It takes a lot of force to get any hoof off. In cows, unlike horses, you want the sole and hoof wall to have evenly distributed weight.  The other day the hoof trimmer came to do more of the cows in the milking barn.  He had a shoot that lifted the cows up and had belly straps to keep the cows from laying down and had things to hold their legs up.  It was quite the contraption.  He used a power sander type things to basically grind the hooves instead of a hoof knife.  He still used a knife and nippers for parts, but the bulk of it was with the power tool.

This is just a brief description of things.  I will do another for the different cows and a weekly one….

Diggin’ Up Dirt~Little Gold’s History

Facebook stalker. n. 

“An individual who secretly looks up people on facebook, going through albums, comments and personal information to piece together a picture of this person. Potentially developing into an obsession.”
 
Now that may be an incredibly creepy way to put it, but none-the-less facebook stalking is a skill.  I would like to think I am incredibly good at finding people on facebook, even people I’ve just met.  Now it is not an obsession and I do not go through their photos putting together a picture of their entire life, but I would say I would make a pretty good detective.  I will explain quickly the methods to this skill, and then go in to the actual story: tracking down Loki’s history.
 
Now when trying to find someone on facebook there are the basic searches.
1) Typing a first name, last name, or both into the search bar.  If many of your friends are friends with that person, it is likely to show up.
2) Searching a known email of phone number.  Now when you fill out your information, it makes it easy to search for them on facebook.  There may be a million Maggie’s, but there is only one with the email of the previous owner of Loki.
 
Now once you’ve exhausted these methods, you may be stuck.  Most people may give up at this point, either not sure what to do next, or blame the fates, or figure that person isn’t one facebook (yes, not everyone has a facebook).  However, for a “facebook stalker” (or anyone good at hunting down things), this is just the beginning.  After these initial searches there are several others that can be done.
 
3) Search in a common group.  Groups have members, and within these members may lie the person you are looking for.  For example, a University freshman class page.  I have found several people this way.  And for this it is even easier with just a first name.
4) Searching through mutual friends.  You may not be friends with someone, but if they know one of your friends, chances are that they are facebook friends.  Search these peoples friend lists.  For this too, only a first name is needed.  
 
Other searches can include towns, or jobs, etc.  But chances are, at this point, if you can’t find them, you are either spelling their name wrong, they have a street name as their facebook name, or, gasp, they are not on facebook.
 
Now there have been maybe a handful of people I have not found on facebook.  Now again, to clarify a few things at this point since I may sound like an actual stalker, I do not go through peoples walls or photos.  I may look at one or two to verify the person, but I’m not that crazy.
 
Now that I have gone off on a huge, somewhat relevant, tangent, I will go on to the real story.  Tracking Loki’s history down.
 
Now I have always wanted to know Loki’s history since I saw her.  She steals everyone’s hearts.  Everyone always tells me how adorable she is and I have gotten several offers to buy her.  One from a horse show judge, and another from a weird lady.  This is another tangent I have to take.
 
So Wednesday I took Maverick for a trail ride after riding inside, and we went with Susan and Loki (Susan leases Loki two days a week).  We were walking down the road and a car goes by and a ways up the road it is parked on the side of the road. A yellow Mustang.  As we approach we are both like what is this person doing.  As we are walking by this lady asks out the window, can I buy your horse, I like her (or something along those lines).  Susan tells her that I own her at the same time I say she is mine.  I then tell her shes not for sale, I love her to much.  She will never be.  She seemed insistent, and may have asked again, I don’t really remember.  Half an hour later, on the way home, she is still parked there.  At this point I am really weirded out.  As I pass her car window again, she kisses out the window (like you do to have them canter) and was like I want to see them run.  At this point I am thinking this lady is a wack job (she had that vibe) and I laugh lightly and tell her no, my horse wasn’t very experienced on trail (thinking to myself if we canter I might die).  That night I had a feeling that the lady was either just weird, or was going to steal my horse in the middle of the night.  That didn’t happen, but seriously who sits in their car for forty minutes just to ask to buy a random horse and then ask them to run.  It was a cloudy day and like 6 at night.  This lady obviously needed to get a life.
 
Okay now that I am done with that rant I will continue.  I know very little about Loki.  I know Maggie (her previous owner) bought her from a man in Canada.  I know she told me she had two foals (which may or may not be true) and I know that her registered name is Little Gold from one of the few papers she gave me.  Now, it takes me a long time to get around to some things, and this is one of those things.  When I first got her I was busy riding, working, and general shenanigans.  By the time I thought about the few papers Maggie had given to me it was the start of College.  At that point the papers, like everything else in our house, had disappeared.  I knew they had to be somewhere, but in this house, you wait on it to vomit the lost item back out, usually after you’ve bought another.  In this case it was just a waiting game.
 
 
I found them tonight.  Correction.  My mom found them on the computer desk shelf, where I had thought they were and searched countless times.  Like I said, this house has a life of it’s own.  I once lost my camera when I thought it was on my desk.  I searched the entire house including that desk about 6 times.  A week later it appeared.  On my desk.  Where I had left it.  I think the house got some help from a brother, but they deny any doing.  So my mom found the papers, and I was partly overcome with my growing curiosity mixed with the complete avoidance of my homework and upcoming exams.  
 
First I found information on one of her previous owners.  I decided to write them a letter to see what I would get.  
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The furthest back I can find is 2009.  When she was 17.  The owners from Ohio that I will send a letter to bought her at an auction in North Lake Bay, Washington.  Now I can’t find any information on that specific auction, but I do know it’s not a high kill auction.
 
This is where my “facebook stalking” (or detective) skills came in handy.  After searching for anything on either city, and the addresses/ names given I got nothing.  I decided to search for the vet that did the coggins.  Dr. Gabriel E. Middleton.  This is the link to the veterinary practice  http://www.orrvillevetclinic.com/team.html.  Now this didn’t tell me much besides the fact the coggins was valid.  Next I moved on to the registration number.  I found her pedigree on the AHR website with the number.  I don’t entirely know how to read this so any help would be great.
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I then emailed the registry asking for any more information they had on her.  
 
Next I moved on to the next known owner of Loki.  Ferme Grison.  Located somewhere in Canada, this is the last owner before Maggie, the man she bought her from.  I looked up his name hoping maybe there would be a farm.  This was one of those step one or two in my facebook stalking how-to.  I honestly didn’t think much would show up at this point, but to my surprise he was from a Haflinger breeding farm.  Ferme Grison Farm.  Would you fancy that? (I apologize for my blogging snarkiness).  
 
I am almost positive this is the farm that Maggie bought her from.  I emailed them hoping they may have more information on her.  Now I would ask Maggie, but I honestly think she knows less than I do.  I am hoping to get some information on her, and I would absolutely love to know any information on any of her foals.  That being said, it’s now a waiting game.  Until then,
 
AllYouNeedIsALittleGold ❤
 
 

Spring!

So even though this spring is being stubborn (it has been snowing and raining off and on) we have still managed some good rides!  We saw some llamas,

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They came running at us, but today only one cared enough to come see us…

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Then on our way past the farm we had a cat stalking us, ready to pounce.

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She was also looking especially adorable today after a long shedding and brushing…

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Tomorrow is supposed to be really nice and then the week is rain again so hopefully we will get a nice ride in!  Hopefully Loki will have calmed down since today and doesn’t spook at every little thing (which involves jumping in place, or in today’s case, stopping dead in the middle of cantering up a hill.  I’m just glad it was up hill)

 

On our way back we stopped to see Taylor and Patrick and Loki and Taylor were cuddling (then squealing)

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Lost on a Sunny Spring Afternoon

So I have a new love and trust for Loki.  First, it’s our 13 months today <3.  So yesterday I was having a really bad day.  All I wanted to do was go for a long ride and shut out the world.  I decided to go down the road and go exploring some trails by the house they are building out there.  Now, a few weeks later we saw the owner’s and they told us to ride back there anytime, and I mentioned how muddy it gets.  They told us that there is a way to get around the mud, a ridge on the mountain.  They said it was okay to go up but too steep to go down on horse, but if you went up it, it would put you out just behind the mud.  So this is what I decided to try.  The hill was very steep.  Loki was huffing and puffing so I got off and walked with her.

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We were following both ATV and footprints at this point.

The trail was taking us around the edge of the mountain, and I decided to follow the footprints, as I was assuming they were the owner of the house.  About 40 minutes later we still weren’t to the trail I wanted to be at.  I was still walking at this point and decided to look at the GPS on my phone.  I was telling me I was near some roads I had never heard of, and I had a suspicion I was in Milton at this point, and my dad was texting me about an eye appointment that I had, and I was like I’m kinda lost right now, and he was like uhh? He called me and I was like I don’t really know where I am, or what town I am in.  I decided to head back the way I came, and figured I would deal with the hill when I got to it (I wasn’t even sure I would make it down the hill).  On the way home I gave Loki the rein and figured she would go in the direction of home.  After her instincts, mine, and a bit of bushwhacking I saw some trails that I thought I recognized.  We followed those, and one point crashing through thin ice into a deep mud puddle, before I could get off she got up and out of the mud, but the mud had flung up all over both of us. (It was a watery mud)

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Finally I started hearing cars and saw some houses.  Right as we came to the edge of the field, a big doe jumped in front of us and bounded through the woods.  I was honestly surprised that Loki didn’t spook, she just looked at it and watched it with me.  Now at this point I knew I was somewhere in Milton, I just wasn’t sure if I was on the side of the mountain in the center of town, of the part the borders Colchester.  I was considering knocking on a random house (could you imagine what they would think?), but I suddenly recognized one of the houses!  It was a house on the corner of bad curve, the one I crashed on last winter.  At this point I was two and a half miles from home.  We got out to the road (Middle Road in Milton), and started walking home.

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Now my amazing horse just walked calmly on this 40 mph road, and didn’t even flinch at cars going by.  Once we got onto the dirt road I got off and walked for a mile or two to give her a rest.

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When we got home, both she and I were exhausted, my phone was now dead, and Loki was eager to get to her food.  At this point it had been a little over 3 hours since we had set out.  I was so proud of her and me working together to find our way out of the mountain.  At one point, I was defeated and thought we would never get out, but Loki was just happy to be out on trail.

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(Enjoying our trail, even being lost!)